LANHAM, Md. — A 17-year-old in Prince George’s County said she was mistakenly given the Moderna shot and has since struggled to get her second dose. Ozioma Ahaghotu jumped at the chance to sign up for her COVID shot when Maryland opened vaccinations to teens.
“Excitement for sure,” Ahaghotu said. She said she scheduled her first shot for March 22 through Luminis Health and requested Pfizer, since it’s the only vaccine the FDA has approved for 16 and 17-year-olds. In fact, on Monday, the FDA gave emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to children aged 12-15.
When she showed up for her appointment, Ahaghotu said she told staff she was 17 and showed them her ID.
“They told me I’ll be getting Moderna, and I said, ‘Are you sure? I’m 17. Is it okay, for under 18?'” she said. “The lady told me that yes, it’s okay. So they went ahead and administered me the dose.”
When she showed up for her second shot in April, she said the supervisor told her that she couldn’t get it, because she was 18 and that she would have to get a doctor’s note to receive it.
Ahaghotu said her doctor refused to write the note, since it hasn’t been authorized for her age group.
She wrote to Luminis Health, explaining the problem, requesting her second dose, and citing the CDC guidance, which says that if a 17-year-old is mistakenly given a Moderna shot, they may get a second one as off-label use.
She shared an email Luminis sent her in response, which reads, “At this point you will need to start vaccination series with the approved vaccine for your age group, which is Pfizer. Before you are able to begin a new series you will need to allow 90 days between each type, that being said it will be 90 days from 3/22/2021 date of your 1st dosage of Moderna, which is 6/20/2021 before you can start that series. Please complete another interest form and request to be scheduled with the next 16-18 year old Pfizer Clinic.”
“I was like, this is very ridiculous,” Ahaghotu said. “Because I was pumped to, you know, have both my doses. I can go out, you know, have fun. And then finally I get disappointed in the fact that I can’t get it.”
Luminis Health sent WUSA9 the following statement:
“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community members. We have been in contact with the mother and have resolved the issue to her satisfaction. According to CDC guidelines, anyone between the ages of 16 and 17 who first received the Moderna vaccine can receive the same vaccine for the second dose. We are continuously communicating with and training our vaccine providers about these guidelines. Luminis Health is proud to have administered more than 90,000 vaccines to our community to help end this pandemic.”
Ahaghotu confirmed that Monday, after WUSA 9 reached out to Luminis, the health system called her and arranged a second dose of the Moderna vaccine for Saturday.
“Relieved,” she said. “Finally, I can get my second dose and do what I was planning on doing this summer.”
One of those plans involving working at a grocery store, where she interacts with a lot of people. So, she’s especially glad to finally been on track to full vaccination.
However, it’s been more than 42 days since she received her first dose. The CDC recommends getting your second dose within a maximum of six weeks. However, the CDC also says, “There is currently limited information on the effectiveness of receiving your second shot … later than 6 weeks after the first shot. However, if you do … you do not have to restart the vaccine series.” This isn’t the first time Luminis Health has had vaccine issues with patients. Three weeks ago, WUSA 9 reported on the health system mistakenly giving one woman two different vaccines for her first and second shot. Doctors then said she should be okay.